Do you not know? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth, He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. (Isaiah 40:28 NIV)
This simple statement about the nature and character of God is one of those “plaque-worthy” verses. You know what I mean, you’ll find the verse on a nice plaque you hang in your house or printed on a card you send to a friend going through hard times. It is from the chapter of Isaiah that begins with “Comfort ye my people,” which I can’t read without hearing Handel’s Messiah in the background. If you have a Bible on your phone or tablet, take a minute to read Isaiah chapter 40 before you go on because it will put the verse and the rest of this post into context.
When you see the verse in context, you find that Isaiah’s statement above in verse 28 is made in response to the people of Israel complaining, “My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God.” That sentiment may not be “plaque-worthy,” but we have all felt it. We face trouble and we pray and plead and seek God’s intervention to fix the problem or make it go away. Yet, the problem continues, and we feel like our prayers are unheard. In those situations, verse 28 is not comforting at all, it is frustrating. God, the everlasting creator of the universe knows exactly what I am going through and He is choosing not to fix it. Why? Because, He has understanding no one can fathom. He knows what is best for me.
These times of testing are difficult to go through and difficult to understand. For a long time, I thought of God as the great professor in the sky who would teach me a lesson and then test me, so He could see if I had learned it. “OK, Dave, this week we learn about patience. Here’s what the Bible says about patience. Now, here is a totally frustrating situation so I can see if you have paid attention.” Then it occurred to me one day that God knows how I will do on the test before it even begins. He knows me better than I do. So, who is the test for if it isn’t for God? It is for me. The tests and trials I face show me where I need to grow and where I need to change.
In his letter to the Romans, Paul said, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Rom 5:1-5 NIV). Just as precious metals are refined by fire, our faith is refined by testing.
This chapter ends with another plaque-worthy section that you have probably seen but may not have had the context:
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
God may not sweep in and take away our problems. But, instead of stumbling and falling, He will give us strength to run and soar and, in doing so, we will learn about God’s character and develop our own.
I also want you to know that God does intervene in situations and deliver His people in times of trial. If you have time to read a great book about God working miracles today, I recommend Miracles by Eric Metaxas.